Must-Read: Claudia Goldin: The Quiet Revolution

Must-Read: Claudia Goldin: The Quiet Revolution: “The National Longitudinal Survey… began in 1968 with women who were between 14 and 24 years old…

…One of the questions the survey asked was, ‘What do you think you’re going be doing when you’re 35 years old?’ In 1968, young women essentially answered this question as if they were their mothers…. The fraction that said they would be out of the home was much smaller than the fraction that actually did end up working outside the home. But as these women matured and as successive cohorts were interviewed, their perceptions of their futures, their own aspirations, began to change… to match their actual participation rates…. That meant these young women could engage in different forms of investment in themselves; they attended college to prepare for a career, not to meet a suitable spouse. College women began to major in subjects that were more investment oriented, like business and biology, rather than consumption oriented…. One of the most important changes was the appearance of reliable, female-controlled birth control…. Before reliable birth control, a woman faced a nontrivial probability of having her career derailed by an unplanned pregnancy–or she had to pay the penalty of abstinence…. The pill made it possible for women who were ‘on the pill’ to delay marriage, and that, in turn, created a ‘thicker’ marriage market for all women to marry later and further lowered the cost to women of investing in a career….

Women and men have converged in occupations, in labor force participation, in education, where they’ve actually exceeded men — in a host of different aspects of life. One can think about each of these parts of the convergence as being figurative chapters in a metaphorical book. And this metaphorical book, called ‘The Grand Convergence,’ has to have a last chapter. But what will be in the last chapter?… Gender equality in pay per unit of time worked, must have greater temporal flexibility without large penalties to those who work fewer hours or particular schedules…. The question is, why are there some occupations with large gender gaps and others with very narrow gaps? There are some occupations where people face a nonlinear function of wages with respect to hours worked; that is, people earn a disproportionate premium for working long and continuous hours…. Pharmacy is the opposite…. There’s no part-time penalty…. Saying workers are good substitutes for each other sounds like you’re commoditizing them. But it can be true even for very high-income professions…. Pharmacy, which is my favorite example, is very highly paid. For women, pharmacy is the third highest in terms of annual income for full-time employed workers. For men, it’s the eighth highest…

May 27, 2015

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